Mark Of The Spirit Hand

Andover, New Jersey, was quaint and quiet in the days before the

Revolution--it is not a roaring metropolis, even yet--and as it offered

few social advantages there was more gathering in taprooms and more

drinking of flip than there should have been. Among those who were not

averse to a cheering cup were three boon companions, Bailey, Hill, and

Evans, farmers of the neighborhood. They loved the tavern better than the

church, and in truth the church folk did not love them well, for they

were suspected of entertaining heresies of the most forbidden character.

It was while they were discussing matters of belief over their glasses

that one of them proposed, in a spirit of bravado, that whichever of the

trio might be first to die should come back from the grave and reveal

himself to the others--if he could--thus settling the question as to

whether there was a future.

Not long after this agreement--for consent was unanimous--Hill departed

this life. His friends lamented his absence, especially at the tavern,

but they anticipated no attempt on his part to express the distinguished

consideration that he had felt for his old chums. Some weeks passed, yet

there was no sign, and the two survivors of the party, as they jogged

homeward to the house where both lived, had begun to think and speak less

frequently of the absent one. But one night the household was alarmed by

a terrible cry. Bailey got a light and hurried to the bedside of his

friend, whom he found deathly white and holding his chest as if in pain.

He has been here! gasped Evans. He stood here just now.

Who? asked Bailey, a creep passing down his spine.

Hill! He stood there, where you are now, and touched me with a hand that

was so cold--cold-- and Evans shivered violently. On turning back the

collar of his shirt the impression of a hand appeared on the flesh near

the shoulder: a hand in white, with one finger missing. Hill had lost a

finger. There was less of taverns after that night, for Evans carried the

token of that ghostly visit on his person until he, too, had gone to

solve the great secret.

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